Monday, December 28, 2009

Emma and Judy

I apologize for the lack of new posts lately. Gravestones usually get pushed to the back burner during this time of year.

In our family, this hidden week between Christmas and New Year's is often devoted to working on family history and going through old photographs. This year, I've been helping Pete's mom scan several hundred photographs from the Pownall family (Pete's paternal grandmother's family).

There are plenty of wonderful photos in the set, but by far my favorite is this picture of Emma Mathilde Rathke Pownall (Pete's great-grandmother) holding her daughter, Judith Jean (Pete's great-aunt). Judy was born in November of 1915 and her mother died in March of 1919 while giving birth to Pete's grandmother, Amy. In this photo, Judy is almost 2 years old, Emma is not visibly pregnant, and they are outside without coats, so I think it was taken in the late summer/early autumn of 1917.

We have boxes and boxes of studio photographs of this generation, but few candids. Though this picture is posed, you can't pose the smile on Judy's face. It's tragic that these two little girls grew up without a mother and heartbreaking to find a photo of their happiness before it was shattered. Still, it is a lovely photograph and I will be making a copy for myself, even though I'm only associated with them by marriage.

Emma Mathilde Rathke Pownall

Judith Jean Pownall
In a good hat!

Amy Dolores Pownall
Judith Jean Pownall

Happy New Year Hat

While you're checking out the digital archives at Duke, make sure to look through the Hugh Magnum Photographs Collection. Lots of hats there.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Cait, Ben, and Graham (c. 1989) wish you a happy holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guest Post: Jack-Boots and Broken Windows

Over the next few days, I will be featuring the work of several talented undergraduates who have agreed to have their research projects featured as guest posts. The papers are longer than normal posts, but I thought that readers of this blog might be interested in reading more about Revolutionary-era Boston. All formatting errors are mine — I lost some details (such as italics) in the transfer from Word to Blogger.

Today's guest poster is Allan Bradley, who used John Boyle's journal to examine popular resistance to the Stamp Act.

On the night of November 5th, 1764, rough Boston maritime workers divided into two mobs, the North End and the South End, and each built a cart carrying an effigy of the Pope. After darkness fell, they engaged in a violent battle, each side attempting to steal the other’s cart and effigy.  After half an hour of combat with clubs, staves, and brick-bats, the South End captured the North End’s effigy and burned both on Boston Neck.  It was a yearly ritual; each November 5th, the Pope met the same fiery fate at the hands of the working men of Boston, who fought for the privilege of burning the effigy of that hated enemy to English liberty.  Pope’s Day of 1764 was particularly violent, and a young printer’s apprentice named John Boyle recorded in his journal: “A Child of Mr. Brown’s at the North-End run over by one of the Wheels of the North-End Pope and killed on the Spot.  Many others were wounded in the evening.” [1]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas Hat

Duke University has one of the best digital photo archives around. One of the most interesting collections in the archive chronicles the photography of Michael Francis Blake, an African-American photographer who operated a studio in Charleston, SC between 1912 and 1934. The collection contains many photos of children, including this sweet little girl with her velvet coat, bonnet, and giant doll (also in bonnet).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Catholic Obstetrical Textbook Quote of the Day

"A system of education that ignores the will, upon which morality and virtue are based, and substitutes a sham intellectuality as elaborated by ignorant boards of education and administered by emotional, half-educated women, together with a lack of genuine religion, is a prolific source of mental and moral deterioration and consequent degeneracy in the physical and moral orders. Our American public-school system is such and its deity is the unwashed and crassly depraved god Demos, whose bible is the evening newspaper. If we could civilize our schools, we should have no mention of legislation by vagary."

- Austin O'Malley, relevantly

The Ethics of Medical Homicide and Mutilation (1919)

This is the concluding paragraph of O'Malley's obstetrical textbook.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jopsephely and the Sinking Apostrophes

Here's another stone from a Connecticut River Valley carver, though I'm not sure which one. The carver owes a lot to the Stebbins Family and William Holland for the crown and scroll motif, but this stone looks rougher than the others I've seen from the Stebbins workshop or Holland. Might it be an early stone by John Ely? I don't know the western Massachusetts carvers very well, but there is an extensive website dedicated to their work for anyone who is interested in the subject.

I was most interested in the lettering on this stone. Not only does the carver misspell "Joseph" (and Mary?) and employ idosyncratic capitalization, he uses commas as apostrophes in several instances. The words "died, " "April," "daughter," and "months" are rendered "di,d" "Apr,l" "daugh,r" and "mont,s." I've never seen anything quite like it. He also seems to place a tittle over his capital is, just like John Stevens I.

Marei Ely
d. 1771
and Lovice Ely
d. 1763
Holyoke, MA

Catholic Obstetrical Textbook Quote of the Day

"Prolongation of the lactation period beyond the usual time for weaning, from the ninth to the twelfth month, is common among ignorant and lazy women. Some women prolong lactation in the erroneous notion that it prevents renewed impregnation. Such lactation is injurious to the child, as a rule. Ploss says hyperlactation is frequent in Spain, and that some Japanese, Chinese, and Armenian women may nurse their children for years, but this practice in undoubtedly injurious, especially among European races."

- Austin O'Malley, knowledgeably

The Ethics of Medical Homicide and Mutilation (1919), pg. 155

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spotlight on Joseph Nash

Some of the most distinctive gravestones in Western Massachusetts were created by Joseph Nash. Nash was active from the 1720s until the 1740s, carving stones for the dead of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Springfield, and other communities in that section of the Connecticut River Valley.

Chileab [Caleb?] Smith
d. 1733
Hannah Smith
d. 1731
Hadley, MA

Catholic Obstetrical Textbook Quote of the Day

"Obstetrical text-books, unfortunately, are written by such emotional men; by men who lack all training in ethics other than that inculcated in childhood out of the mental vagaries of the women in the household."

- Austin O'Malley, professionally

The Ethics of Medical Homicide and Mutilation (1919), pg. ix

This is an endlessly fascinating book. The frontispiece is a giant diagram of a vasectomy. Other books might have a photo of the author before the title page, but not this one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

iTunes Obscenities

I was poking around on iTunes today, looking for a Christmas gift, and happened across the page for No Irish Need Apply (2003). For those of you who have not seen it before, this is a CD recorded by The Gallant Sons of Erin, a band composed mostly of my family members, reenacting buddies, and neighbors and specializing in Irish-American music of the mid-19th century. My Dad plays guitar and sings, my uncle plays banjo, I play tin whistle, our friend Todd plays bodhran, our neighbor Nan plays fiddle, etc. Most of the songs are related to the experiences of the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

Anyway, I had never seen its iTunes page before, so I was surprised to see that one of the song titles had been censored. "Fág an Bealach"* is the rallying cry of the the 28th MVI ("clear the way" in Irish), but it seems that iTunes read that first word as a slur and replaced the a with an asterisk. It's fun to see our album marked as potentially racy when, in reality, it is nuclear-level nerdy.

Come gallant sons of Erin who battle for the right,
Come show your Yankee brethren how Irish lads can fight!
The flag is waving o'er us and brightly gleams the day
We're bound for Carolina, Jeff Davis clear the way!

Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach
Jeff Davis clear the way!

We bear a noble motto,'twas heard in days of yore
When the famous Connaught rangers swept o'er the Spanish shore.
The foe went down before it, and so they will the day
When Erin and Old Bay State shout, "seceshes, clear the way!"

Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach
Seceshes clear the way! 

Our gallant comrades gone before have opened wide the track,
Hark! How the noble fellows call from far Port Royal Bay,
Come on, me boys, the hunt is up, seceshes clear the way!

Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach
Jeff Davis clear the way! 

Old Erin's spirit wakes again, her sould is mounting high,
The soul of Robert Emmet gleams from out each patriot eye.
Lord, help the southern cohort, who in the battle's fray
Shall hear our Irish slogan, "seceshes, clear the way!"

Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach, Fág an Bealach
Jeff Davis clear the way!

* Sometimes spelled "Faugh a Ballagh." When I was about 13, we had a pair of kittens named Faugh and Ballagh.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Still grading, so I'll let others generate content. Enjoy!

10 Gallon Hat, 2 Gallon Head

Is he planning to wear that hat on his entire body? He is just too adorable with his little pout and his overlarge tunic and standing on that chair.

via VIA

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Catholic Obstetrical Textbook Quote of the Day

"Once crazy, always crazy, is an aphorism with much truth in it."

- Austin O'Malley, compassionately

The Ethics of Medical Homicide and Mutilation (1919), pg. 157


I'm spending the weekend grading a pile of final projects. While doing so, I am trying to walk that fine line between fairness and generosity of spirit.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Catholic Obstetrical Textbook Quote of the Day

"The vast majority of women are too lazy to take physical exercise as a hygienic duty at any time, and during pregnancy, their aversion to all effort to overcome indolence is so great they make even themselves believe they cannot."

- Austin O'Malley, respectfully

The Ethics of Medical Homicide and Mutilation (1919)

Ye Olde Thorn

Recently, I have been enjoying listening to books through Audible as I walk to campus or do chores. Pete and I have a membership that gives us one book a month and discounts if we want more than that. In the past few months, I've gone through What Hath God Wrought, The Great Cat Massacre, Battle Cry of Freedom, Misquoting Jesus, This Republic of Suffering, and several others.

While listening to Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship: A Human History, I was enormously distracted by the reader's continued mispronunciation of the thorn ("y^e") as "YEE." I've always assumed that "y^e" is pronounced "the" and that the "YEE" pronunciation was part of the joke when used in the phrase "ye olde." Just as I would pronounce "y^t" as "that" and "y^r" as "their," I would say "the" unless I were dictating and needed to distinguish the thorn from regular old "the."

But now I'm doubting myself. Ever since I listened to this book, I have been paying attention to the times when I've heard others read the thorn aloud (surprisingly, it has come up rather often — I suppose I travel in strange circles). More than half of the people reading old documents said "YEE" instead of "the" and now I'm all turned around. I was sure I was right, but now I'm not.

I'm putting a poll up in the sidebar. Since many of you are skilled in the ways of Early Modern English, I trust your judgment to set me straight.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheery Reading of the Day

I am currently doing some background research for an undergraduate course on the history of life and death issues. This project brings a whole host of light reading across my desk:

Fun Fact of the Day

In 1790, 84 of the 573 households in Plymouth, MA were headed by women. That's 14.66%.

Three households (.52%) were headed by black men (Cato Howe, Prince Goodwin, and Plato Turner).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Authentic Fabrics

Via Jezebel, this article in the Smithsonian Magazine highlights the work of the wonderfully named Rabbit Goody, who weaves historically accurate fabrics for Hollywood costumes. Some of her big projects include the John Adams HBO miniseries and work with various historic homes.

Textiles are certainly not my specialty, but I love them. I have several coverlets from Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, PA and they are so wonderfully cozy-looking. Warm, too!

Widows of Plymouth

While perusing the Plymouth epitaphs, I found several gravestones dedicated to women who outlived their husbands by several decades. I suppose many towns may have had elderly widows, but I can't help but wonder whether the combination of men dying young and women never remarrying is more common in maritime communities. I won't be able to answer that comparative question until I have documented several other cemeteries, but I can look at a few examples of Plymouth's long-term widows:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not a Hat

While I was looking for more daguerreotypes of kids in hats, I came across this image in the online collections of the George Eastman House. The little girls are hatless, but check out that farmer's tan!

Usually, 19th-century portraits show children dressed within an inch of their lives, but this photograph was taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, whose artistic portraits are rarely so stiff or formal. The religious overtones of this portrait cast the children as cherubs, saints, or the Christ child, but the little one's sun-darkened arms make it immediately clear that she belongs to earth, rather than to heaven. It's a lovely image.

Visit the George Eastman House website for more photos by Cameron and other famous photographers of the 19th century.

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Which I Identify With Creationists

This weekend, I went home to see my family and assist with some early Christmas preparations. During my visit, I had a chance to examine my 14-year-old sister's world history homework, which was genuinely appalling.

Her teacher has adopted Gavin Menzies' 1421: The Year China Discovered America as a key text for their class and is, apparently, teaching it as factual information. Menzies' central argument is that a Chinese fleet commanded by Zheng He sailed from China in 1421, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and sailed on to North America, eventually establishing a colonial settlement in modern-day Rhode Island. Menzies (who neither reads nor speaks any Chinese language either ancient or modern) bases his argument on a handful of maps, speculative interpretation of DNA evidence, and the existence of structures such as the Newport Tower and the Bimini Road. He claims that records of the voyage were intentionally destroyed by Chinese officials, but provides a wealth of very specific and uncited information about the expedition. In short, it is a crackpot theory.

This Hat is Brought to You by the Harvard Theatre Collection and the Number 3

Young Irving Selden and his magnificent hat.

See this and many other unusual portraits from the Harvard Theatre Collection here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Susannar Burgess

I apologize for the dearth of substantive posts lately — it's that time of the semester. Between commenting on drafts for increasingly panicked students, navigating holiday obligations, and trying to get a bit of my own work done, I haven't been giving this blog as much attention as I would like. Hopefully, I'll have some down time over break to recommit myself.

In the meantime, here's another fun entry from Benjamin Drew's transcriptions of Plymouth, MA epitaphs:

See also Annar, Marther, Prissilar, etc.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jacob Lakin Stone, 1758

The Old Burying Ground in Groton, MA is home to several beautiful Park workshop gravestones from the 1750s. Of these, the most impressive is the Jacob Lakin stone. Its unusual shape, intricate detail, and elevated position (on top of a tomb mound) make this stone an eye-catcher.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Desembar!

This message brought to you by Obadiah Wheeler
and the Farber Gravestone Collection.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Tribute to Robert Burns?

This is Edward Waldo Emerson, youngest son of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He seems unimpressed with his little Glengarry cap. Not too fond of that basket of lettuce, either.

via VIA

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Autumn: Season of Death?

Over the past few weeks, I've been compiling a database based on Benjamin Drew's transcriptions of Plymouth epitaphs. Hopefully, when I'm done, I will be able to quantify some of the patterns that I have observed anecdotally.

I am nowhere near done with this work, but I took a little break today to run some early statistics. One of the patterns I noticed as I was entering the data was that more people seemed to die in the autumn than in the summer. A graph of the month of death for the first 1,400 individuals in my database showed that there was a noticeable pattern:

There seems to have been a dip in the death rate during the late spring and summer and a peak in the early autumn. I will have to do more detailed analysis when I am done entering all of the data (only 1,500 gravestones to go!). After seeing this overall pattern, I will want to break the death months down by age, decade, gender, etc. I suspect that the month has less of an effect on babies who die in the first month after birth and adults ages 15-50, but may have a pronounced influence on those most susceptible to epidemics: young children (age 2 months-5 years) and the elderly.

We'll see.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Cary Family of Brockton, MA

After my post on Bible names with trend potential, commenter Heather Rojo sent me on a quest to find colonial New Englanders named Vashti. Result: there are way more of them than I would have expected.

While poking around, I found the Cary family of Brockton, MA. What a fantastically eclectic group of names! Here is a sampling from their family entry in the Vital Records of Brockton, MA:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Youth's Companion
17 April 1902

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red-Tailed Hawk on Campus

I wish I could carry my big camera around campus on a daily basis, but I can't manage it and my computer at the same time. That means I have only my non-zooming cell phone to capture fun things like this red-tailed hawk. There is a pair of hawks on campus — they are always screeching, but very rarely perch so low to the ground.

I would have had an amazing pic if I had had my Nikon. Perhaps I need a mid-sized, mid-powered option.

101 Ways, Part 117: Died of the 108 Convulsion Fit

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Silas Barron
d. 1766
Groton, MA

Here lies
the Body of
Silas Barron, son of
Mr. Silasparker Barron
& Mrs. Abigail his wife,
who died of the 108
Convulsion fit Augt 7th
AD 1766. Aged 3 weeks
and 1 Day.

This is such a sad epitaph. It conjures a terrible image of distraught parents clutching a dying baby and counting every seizure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Origin of Species Day

Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. I will be celebrating by listening to the Darwin Song Project (available on iTunes) and reading some of the more stirring passages of Darwin's unexpectedly lucid prose:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

A Very Confusing Epitaph

I found a mystery in Groton, MA last weekend. See what you can make of this epitaph:

Usually, I would interpret the "he" of "he was educated at Harvard College" as referring back to Col. John Bulkley, but that cannot be. He can't have graduated from Harvard in 1769 and died in 1772 at age 69. I've looked through Sibley's Harvard Grads and the oldest students were in their early 20s.

I can only assume that the second half of the epitaph refers to the younger John Bulkley (b. 1749), who was indeed a member of Harvard's class of 1769. This makes sense — the second half clearly eulogizes a young man.

It's strange, though. The Park family would have known the Bulkleys, so perhaps this epitaph was not confusing to them, but it departs rather significantly from the usual pattern of epitaphs. If there is a verse or eulogy beneath the vital information, it is almost always dedicated to the principal honoree. I've never seen anything like this one before.

Col. John Bulkley and John Bulkley, Jr.
d. 1772 and 1774
Groton, MA

Monday, November 23, 2009

Better Pictures

I've updated the pictures on 101 Ways to Say Died #111 and #112. Enjoy!

Treasure Trove

All lovers of kids in hats should go immediately to photo_history's Flickr photostream! I have already spent more than an hour flipping through the hundreds of beautiful daguerreotypes there. If you do not click through, this little girl will pout at you with her chubby, chubby cheeks and then dispatch her casts gloves to track you down and drag you there.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Brother is Famous

Not really, but he is a manager for the UConn football team, so he keeps showing up in press photos. A few weeks ago, he celebrated a touchdown against Rutgers (see photo #33 — he's the one jumping in the background). Now, he's on the Sports Illustrated website — click through to photo #9 to see the full photo of Graham talking to his new friend.

Happy Birthday, Brighid!

Happy 14, Biddie.

Biblical Names That Are Ready for a Comeback

Part of the fun of wandering around in old graveyards is enjoying the 17th- and 18th-century names. I have several favorites that are, alas, out of the question for my hypothetical future children (Hepzibah, Dorcas, Temperance, Thankful). Perhaps we will use them on cats.

Colonial New Englanders used pretty much every name in the Bible — even the naughty ones (Jezebel, Antipas, Herod). Some of these names are definitively out (Mephibosheth, Onesiphorus, Mehuman), but others seemed poised to make a comeback.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Name of the Day

Today I introduce a new category to the colonial New England naming Olympics: most asymmetrically named couple. Our first nominees are from Groton, MA:

Mephibosheth and Jane Adams

According to Samuel Abbott Green's history of Groton, Mr. Adams was called "Fib" by his neighbors. The Adams family had seven children: Susanna, Lucy, Jane, Lydia, Amos, James, and John.

Mephibosheth's parents, John and Mary Adams of Lexington, had a somewhat erratic naming style. Their children were
  • Mephibosheth (b. 1715)
  • John (b. 1717)
  • Michael or Micah (b. 1718)
  • Mary (b. 1721)
  • Abijah (b. 1722)
  • Prudence (b. 1727)
  • Samson (b. 1729)
  • George (b. 1733)
As far as I can tell, Mephibosheth was not named for any relatives — his grandfathers were named George and Gershom, his great-grandfathers were George, Thomas, Michael (itself an unusual name for a Puritan), and either John or William (records disagree). I haven't found many other Mephibosheths in Massachusetts, though there was a Mephibosheth Cain residing in the town of Canaan in 1797. Others:
  • Mephibosheth Bigsbie (or Bixby), b. 1690, Andover, MA
  • Mephibosheth Coddington, b. 1799, Taunton, MA
  • Mephibosheth Baily, b. 1778
As far as Biblical names go, Mephibosheth does not strike me as a particularly promising appellation. Beyond the spelling and nickname issues, there is the problem of the Bible's two Mephibosheths: one, a son of Saul hanged for his father's crimes in 2 Samuel 21, and the other a son of Saul's son Jonathan who is maimed during the escape from the Gibeonites who lynch his father and uncles and grows up to betray King David.

101 Ways, Part 116: Submitted to the Stroke of All Conquering Death

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Abel Lawrence
d. 1770
Groton, MA

Memento mori
HERE lies Inter'd the Remains of
ABEL Lawrence Esqr: son of ye late Col
Wm Lawrence & Susanna his wife.
Being formed by ye GOD of ye Spirits of all
flesh with Superiour intallectual abilities,
he was Called forth in Early life to the
mannagement of publick bussiness, and
acquitted himself with honour. he was
for Several years a member of ye General
Court, a Justice of ye peace; he was affable
in his Disposition when he saw any in
Distress he felt for them & was ready to
Releive them to the utmost of his power.
Beleiving a state of immortality, he endav
oured to secure happiness therein, by the
Exercise of Repentance towards GOD & faith
in Christ. after patiently Endureing a long
and distressing illness, he submitted to
the Stroke of all Conquering death
on the 20th of September AD 1770
Anno AEtatis 41

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Heraldry

For all you heraldry fans out there:

Jonas Cutler
d. 1782
Groton, MA

101 Ways, Part 115: Was Instantly Kill'd by a Stock of Boards

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Aaron Bowers
d. 1791
Pepperell, MA

Yesterday, I wrote about Aaron's brother, John, who drowned in 1776 at the age of three. Aaron was born many years after his parents lost their first son and also died in an accident as a toddler. The verse at the end of the epitaph bears witness to his parents' ongoing grief.

Memento mori
In memory of
Aaron Bowers, son of
Mr. John Bowers & Mrs
Lydia his wife,
who was instantlykill'd
by a stock of boards Sept
12 1791. AEt 2 yrs & 10 mon
Parents dear your idols
all take down.
Lest God should still
upon you frown.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

101 Ways, Part 114: Was Drouned in a Tan Pit

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

John Bowers
d. 1776
Pepperell, MA

Young John Bowers of Pepperell met a horrible end when he fell into a tan pit in 1776. I don't know much about leatherworking, but it seems that a pit used for curing hides is full of lime or other astringents. All of the references I found in a quick Google search describe tan pits as just a slight cut above cesspools in terms of vileness.

John Bowers was not the only child in New England to drown in a tan pit: Thomas Newhall drowned in Boston in 1665 and Mary Hall Morrison (age 2) died in 1825.

Here lies the
Body of John Bowers
the first Born & only
son of Mr John Bower
and Mrs Lydia his wife
who was drouned in
a tan pit Augst 24th
1776 Aged 3 Years 3
months & 6 days.
Youth's foreward [s]lips [?]
Death soonest Nips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Prayer for the Wool Workers

"Blessed are the dead who dye in the Lord"
Groton, MA

Heraldry in Concord

It is a well-established fact that I know nothing about heraldry. It is frequently pretty, but that is the extent of my informed commentary on the subject. This coat of arms can be found on the Colonel Nathan Barrett gravestone (1791) in Concord, MA. I suppose that those are supposed to by lions rampant in the middle there, though they look more like horse-rat hybrids.

If anyone would like to offer some informed commentary in the comments, I will elevate it to guest post status.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Name of the Day

There is a tiny graveyard in Bar Harbor, Maine that holds the graves of two women named Aquea and Aquaie. I have never seen these names before. I wonder whether they spring from the same inspiration as Wavey from The Shipping News.

Aquea S. Roberts
d. 1861
Bar Harbor, ME

Aquaie J. Alley
d. 1886
Bar Harbor, ME

Monday, November 16, 2009

Addams Family Hat

I dedicate this hat to my mother, who loves 19th-century portraits in which half-hidden monsters mothers steady their floppy offspring for the camera.

I think this hat thing needs to be a weekly feature.

via VIA

Sunday, November 15, 2009


As commenter RJO pointed out, it is quite unusual to see the title "Madam" on New England gravestones. I was in Burlington, MA recently and was surprised to find two examples:

Madam Hannah Peters
d. 1782
Burlington, MA

Madam Abigail Jones
d. 1814
Burlington, MA

Both Hannah and Abigail were the widows of ministers, as was Jane Robbins, so I imagine that "Madam" was probably a way of honoring the wives of illustrious men.

"faithful black domestic of Madam Abigail Jones"
d. 1813
Burlington, MA

101 Ways, Part 113: Commenced Her Inseparable Union With Her Much Beloved Husband and Her God

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Jane Robbins
d. 1800
Plymouth, MA

I don't know where the original line breaks came in this epitaph, so I have broken it where it makes sense to me. There may be a word or two missing from the transcription in the last line before the verse.

This Stone
consecrated to the memory of
consort of the late
Revd Dr Robbins
who languished from his death
30th June 1799
till 12th September 1800
when in the 60th year of her age
She commenced her inseparable
union with her much beloved Husband
and her God
[?] is erected by the Piety
of her afflicted children.
Unfading hope when life's last embers burn,
When soul to soul and dust to dust return,
Heav'n to thy charge resigns the awful hour
Oh, then thy Kingdom comes immortal Power.